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Organising local partnerships

Chapter 4
The partnership matures


4.2 Gradually establishing an order of things


    4.2.1 Development and local participation

As it evolves a partnership is obliged to tackle the question of decision-making and power.

A clarification of positions, however gradual, is essential, as conflicts can arise - privately or in the open - which drain a great deal of energy.

Overcoming the tensions this problem generates is a sure sign of durability and will carry a partnership beyond the point of no return.

There being no ready-made solution (and such a solution would in any event be simplistic), methodological discussion will take the heat out of the debate by clarifying the terms of the problem and the questions that need to be answered in order to produce a solution tailored to each particular case.

Aside from the inevitable personal conflicts, clashes generally grow out of disagreements as to the expediency, indeed legitimacy, of choices entailing allocation of funds with which some partners are not happy. For instance, those making the decisions may be highly tempted to sacrifice the long term to the pressure of the short term, to apply programmes and budgets as quickly and simply as possible to predominantly material investment (facilities and amenities) with instantly visible effects.

In addition, there may be conflicts of an ethical nature regarding the right to take decisions, this right being all too easily left with whoever holds the purse strings.

Division of powers is essential, for:

  • it prevents an institution from being the judge in its own case, and leaves no doubt as to the powers and responsibilities of each individual;

  • it establishes a multi-tiered system, preventing excessive pressure from interest or other groups during decision-making.

Division of powers is a guarantee of the proper functioning of local democracy, which lies at the heart of a dynamic partnership.

It is important also to legitimise these various powers, identify their different functions for development and come up with new types of interrelation to enhance the participation, effectiveness and responsibility of all those involved in the decision-making process.

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